Sieger considered all students his kids
Mary Gales Askren
Published: Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
No, he doesn’t have any children, retiring teacher Neal Sieger once told an individual who inquired about his family. Rather, he said, he has hundreds.
“Each one of these kids is important to me,” he said, explaining that he wants to see all students who have passed through his classroom at Custer High School or who have been engaged in one of the sports he’s coached succeed.
Sieger is one of the six veteran teachers to have an early separation approved by the Custer school board this year. Others are Lorie Steinhauer, Jana Martinson, Mike Pahl, Eileen Wahlstrom and Dale Schaffer.
Although he states openly that he has derived satisfaction as a teacher from working with young people and watching them grow, Sieger is more willing to talk about the way he has been influenced by others than to talk about his own accomplishments.
He credits Larry Luitjens with inspiring him to enter education. The 1970 Custer High School graduate said he started playing basketball with Luitjens while working at summer basketball camps.
“I wanted to be like him,” Sieger said. “He’s always had an enthusiasm for young people.”
He talks about the support he’s received from high school principal, Dr. Paul Anderson. He talks about the thrill of working with Jessie Sundstom when conducting research with the National Honor Society on the history of the West Dam. He also mentions another teacher, Dorthea Edgington.
He began his teaching career in Custer 35 years ago after earning a degree at Chadron State. He said it is not uncommon for the school board to hire Custer natives to fill vacant positions.
“Historically, Custer has a history of hiring teachers who went to school here,” he said. He believes this practice helps the district to maintain a quality staff.
“I’ve taught about every social studies class that’s available,” Sieger said in a brief synopsis of his career.
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